Behind the Curtain

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Behind the Curtain

The games industry doesn't work for the gamers.

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Very well written but I do have one dissent and that is with the power paragraph. I will agree that this generation of video game consoles(i.e. PS3 and Xbox360) are now pushing their technology to the limit that wasn't true for the older generations. The evidence is within the technology itself.

This generation of consoles now supported a visual format that the plebs did not have when released, HD televisions. Composite was still king back then and even getting a television with component cables or S-video was considered to be a major luxury. This huge step forward by Sony and Microsoft going for HDMI really did push consoles to a new level and even now having that big screen television with HDMI for most consumers is still a luxury even with the massive price drops from five thousand dollars down to one thousand dollars. Outside the visual there was also the hardware of these two consoles. They both utilize DDR3 RAM and the PS3 supports SSD. Microsoft and Sony basically sold consumers a computer running a console OS.

When I look back at the older consoles I noticed that the video game consoles advertised on power but really just followed what technology was available to them at the time. Sure the bit wars was a huge selling point all the way up to the Atari Jaguar but the consoles themselves always ensured that the majority of consumers would be able to hook up to the console regardless of the television they owned. Whether it was RF adapters or composite cables hooking up a Nintendo, SNES or Genesis was no problem.

I think it was smart advertising because video games was a new format where when I was a child the bit wars was just an excuse to believe that the consoles were the "latest" technology.

Today you are right Mr.Ward that video game consoles are pushing the limits of technology and that is very unhealthy for the video game industry because the research costs are getting deeper and deeper for what I like to suggest is less returns. The game industry is a crippled giant where developers and publishers need to change the focus of the consumers and stockholders on the games that will make money for the least amount of returns.

I for one will welcome the industries implosion, if & when it comes. Will amuse me to watch so much money lost on inconsequential toys.

Thank you for the well written if depressing article, but even if plebs like me start buying stock in game companies will we ever reach a great enough percentage to make a difference? Do common share holders even get a say in what games get green lit?

I know the whole point of this article was to make you go "A-Durrrfffff", but...I feel the need to say, DUHHHH. No freakin' way. Everyone that has the ability to think for themselves(logically of course) would know all of this.

The video game industry is a business, and whether its building the next best system to beat their competitors, or taking absolutely zero risks on the next hot title, its all about making money. It was the same way even in the old days. Thats why you saw mascots on each system. Sonic, Bubsy, Mario, etc. They were all money-makers. E.T.? Was supposed to be a money maker, due to the movie coming out, but that was complete shit. Still, the attempt was made to make money.

While there were(and still are) some developers out there that just want to make the game for the gamers...don't fool yourself in thinking that it wasn't always like this.

Ugh... so true, so true... and I know that there is no one else to blame but myself. Back when I had the money to buy games I used to buy mostly popular stuff that my friends recommended and I only had a couple of off-the-wall titles in my collection. Sure many of my games had some creative differences (I just wanted to mention Disgaea in this reply), but most were cut-pasted from previous successes. I apologize, but unfortunately I don't think I'm gonna change either (assuming I'll ever have enough money to afford games again).

Or you could also point a finger at the point that the industry is internally borked and a lot of the problem is code monkeys demanding a lot more money than they are actually worth. One the few negative things I will say on the developer end of things is that they are overpaid, and basically full of waste, hiring tons of people that they probably do not need. Especially in this day and age of recycled game engines like "Unreal" and "GRAW" and the like there is less work needed than ever before, and yet the salaries people demand for projects are constantly on the rise. It's not like the old "hobbyist" days where every developer was a polymath (so to speak).

I've been of the opinion that instead of doing illegal and immoral things like conspiring to act as one entity to hike the prices of games $10 universally, that the game producers should get together to instate a sort of Salary cap on game developers. If everyone abides by it, they can't just go to the competition for more money.

The big cost being (as was pointed out) manpower. Let's put things into perspective. Lets say you've got a Hollywood blockbuster-budget game with say thirty million dollars. You hire a thousand people, and your looking at $300,000 apiece. With a three year development cycle that's a hundred grand a year.

Oh sure, ask anyone if they are worth what they are making and they can justify it, but then take a look at the huge list of names scrolling by for a game you've beaten, look at some of the names and think "WTF did that guy do, and why was he getting paid more money in a year than I am making to do it?".

Also I am WELL Aware that my simplistic formula is not accurate to all the costs, or how money is divided, it's just a generality.

See, I complain about how the game industry operates with some frequency, on a lot of levels. However I *DO* think it's an industry that could benefit solidly from salary capping. Being a better idea here than it was with pro-sports overall.

I will also say that I find things especially ironic when I look back at older games that are arguably better (allowing for their time period) than current ones that were made with half the staff, while still having all the same stuff needing to be done (the only thing that has really changed is tech). Heck, today you pretty much have "plug and develop" game engines as well, which just adds to the entire "WTF" factor.

I have no illusions anyone will do this of course, but in general I think the problems with the game industry as a whole are manyfold, and this is one of the issues that needs to be resolved.

He's right but as a shareholder, I find it interesting that the companies that have made me the most money are companies who make games I never play: like Nintendo or Activision.
The game industry is risky for traders so I actually tend to stay away from it unless I know I can make some good money. With that in mind I think the game companies need to take more risks to please gamers as these risks are what usually make the payoff traders are looking for. Not only that, but we already know its risky, go with it.

Therumancer:
*snip*

That's an interesting hypothesis, but do you have anything to back it up? The last time I checked, game developers weren't as famous as Hollywood stars. I never considered a developer's salary to be outrageous. Some numbers for comparison would be nice.

Man, that article is depressing. Yet another incentive to keep in the indie game scene.

LTK_70:

Therumancer:
*snip*

That's an interesting hypothesis, but do you have anything to back it up? The last time I checked, game developers weren't as famous as Hollywood stars. I never considered a developer's salary to be outrageous. Some numbers for comparison would be nice.

Man, that article is depressing. Yet another incentive to keep in the indie game scene.

Not specifically, and there would be no way of getting that kind of information.

What I am referring to is that the amounts they make being a well known fact. For example even in the article above it talks about how the big cost to these projects is man-hours. Something that has been discussed for a long period of time and never really under dispute.

What this means is that if your dealing with a game that has the budget of a Hollywood movie, the majority of that money is being given to the game developers/coders to make the game. Sure you need to buy hardware, rent office space, and of course do packaging, distribution, etc... but still it all comes down to the coders and such.

Noone is saying that these guys make as much as Hollywood celebrities, even with "simplistic" Math I brougt it to roughly $100k a year. Truthfully that number would vary based on how much goes to materials, and how big the team actually is.

Now there ARE exceptions, like for example on The Escapist they covered it when Itigaki walked out on Team Ninja for not paying him millions he felt he was promised. Itigaki being somewhat famous as a "Rock Star" of the industry.

The overall point I'm making is that in general you do not need a bloody design team so large that it can take 5 minutes or more for all of them to scroll by after beating a game. Also if your tossing tens of millions of dollars to a bunch of coders(Hollywood Budget), something is definatly borked.

Let me be honest, Hollywood movies cost what they do because there is only so much you can do (or do well) on a soundstage. Oh sure, some big star might be getting a few million dollars from the budget, BUT a big part of what is costing that money is the fact that if your going to blow up a whole bunch of cars, you need to buy a whole bunch of cars. If you get the scene wrong, you need another whole bunch of cars.

Granted, some things are changing in Hollywood (as computers take over, which is helping to save money allegedly), but this is traditionally why movies cost these bundles of money.

The guys developing a game, have nerds in cubicles. They aren't blowing up lots full of cars, or paying these guys to drive flaming automobiles over a ramp and then jump out before they make it explode.

These games are sometimes publicized with budgets in the 10s of millions of dollars, and really the claims are that the codemonkeys/man hours are the big expense. That's pretty bloody stupid if you ask me.

Really, think about it. Look at the credits list in a game and then think about it.

Now maybe if line coding involved these guys having to be lit on fire and lowered into a cage of starving tigers, or made to be shot through rotating helicopter blades from a cannon (again while on fire) then you could justify the hefty piles of cash these guys are charging :P

The simple fact that Itigaki could demand millions of dollars with a straight face for his services (and what does he do exactly?) also says a lot, then again he might for some reason be a singular exception for whatever reason. I'm just thinking that he's basically putting himself in the same catagory of say Arnold Schwartzneggar in an action movie in his prime.

Christian Ward:
The games industry doesn't work for the gamers.

No shit, if they did we'd have good games coming out more often and possibly an LBA 3 on the way.

Therumancer:
SNIP

Unless I'm mistaken, I think the average is closer to 30 grand a year. That seems about right for someone with four years of university education (minimum).

@Therumancer
Here is a site giving salaries of people in the game industry:

http://www.animationarena.com/video-game-salary.html

Programmers make about $50,000 a year which is about average for their non game industry counterparts. It is also completely justifiable considering their skill set is one that takes four years of college plus three years of industry experience to gain. Also if you check the drop out rate of Computer Science introductory courses you will see very few people actually have the chops to become a programmer let alone a game programmer.

Artists and designers make some what less, but their education is less formal and less expensive. However if their name becomes known well enough that their mere presence on a project will positively effect sales they can ask for more. See your Itigaki example.

While coding does not involve being on fire or playing with tigers, it occasionally calls for a death march. A period of time just before major mile stones where they do not leave their cubes of anything except the toilet. If they fail the death march the game will have bugs, get cancled, or be delayed past the optimal selling season.

Therumancer:
[quote="LTK_70" post="6.150983.3561584"]
Noone is saying that these guys make as much as Hollywood celebrities, even with "simplistic" Math I brougt it to roughly $100k a year. Truthfully that number would vary based on how much goes to materials, and how big the team actually is.
. . .
Also if your tossing tens of millions of dollars to a bunch of coders(Hollywood Budget), something is definatly borked.

A studio I once worked at told us the man-hours are about 75% of the expense, with the majority of that going towards art. One project I was on had 140 people (not counting external contractors), and about 20 programmers. Excepting maybe since the economy got flushed, it is possible for programmers (can't speak to anyone else) to leave the industry and get a sizable bump in salary. So yes, even us on the mega-projects are sacrificing to be here. Some studios are built on that sacrifice, though not in a good way.

No-one is throwing 8-digit millions at code monkeys. I'd suggest learning what goes into making a current-gen game before commenting on it. Start with some postmortems at Gamasutra. They usually have good info about team size, budget, etc.

An extremely well written article, and sadly accurate in all the details that make us sad :( But at the same time, I have to wonder why some companies act the way they do - why doesn't LucasArt's release Grim Fandigo, or Full Throttle on Steam, for example?

Regardless, it is very sad that our medium has been invaded by this business culture that has wrecked Hollywood, with its risk averse black hole logic that means god awful comedies and cookie cutter action movies and sequel upon sequel get released (I'm looking at you, Die Hard 4). The saddist part is, like these crappy movies, the crappy games seem to sell like hot cakes.

Its a bloody shame that our niche market looks like it will increasely die off as the console kiddies born to the Wii settle for shallow, meaningless drivel. Don't get me wrong, I do have a Wii now as well as my XBox, but I'm not pretending there is a massive catalog of quality for it. Maybe 10 games on there appeal to us "hardcore" folk.

I have to wonder when Hollywood will burn out all the sequels they can make from Die hard and other movies that were long and peacefully laid to rest, and destroy themselves as they cannibalise their own output. Sadly, the same will probably happen to games.

So... what, if anything, can we do to stop it? Well, try and convert as many Wii Sports players into Mario Galaxy fans would be a start, and then slowly draw them into the harder stuff.

I think I agree for the most part.

I guess if you want to make money by selling games, you sell to the majority. Who is the majority? Stupid people, mostly.

Why is the answer to so much right now "Buy Stock" Think about it, want your way in the gaming business buy stock and become a big stockholder, thats the same way you can fix a recession/depression buy stock and make the graph go up on the nightly news.

Although there's no point to it, I'd like to acknowledge how much I like this article, it's elaboration on business tactics consolidate my similar understanding of it.

If I may be so overconfident of my understanding of the gaming industry, I predict a future rising of indie games as tools for personal production improve along with means of distribution, which might result in particularly skilled developers touted by distribution companies like bands in the music industry, we'll just have to wait and see.

Sadly and depressing but true article. It's a kicker why there's not much good games the past 2 years and willing to turn to old school games.

And yes, humanity is to blame for making endless sequels of the samey old pile of crap. Or milking a franchise to death or do the Nintendo tactic.

The article is well-written, but it forgets one thing: The games industry doesn't work for the stockholders, it works for the mainstream audience. It's the people who don't actually give a crap about games who are deciding the market because they're the ones buying-up all these Guitar Hero sequels. Same goes for the huge RPG binge that happened on the PSX. Final Fantasy 7 not only broke the sales record, it demolished the record to the degree of using an Omnislash on a Level 1 monster. Suddenly we had RPGs coming out of our ears. By the time the PS2 came along though the mainstream audience had moved-on. With RPG sales dipping, the industry moved-on to try and figure out what the mainstream's current hook was.

So it isn't really the stockholders who control the industry, it's the mainstream market. After-all, those sales figures that they need in order to impress their stock holders have to come from somewhere, and if they didn't need those numbers to impress the stockholders, they'd still need them to keep in business either way.

Edit: I would also like to say that I agree a lot with Shamus's article about graphics being a big part of this. A lot of why games are so expensive to make is because of the so-called "power struggle" mentioned in this article. The technology to create graphically intensive games is evolving faster than our ability to make that technology mainstream and accessible, so costs go through the roofs. If we were to travel back 5 or so years into the past, but kept our current technology, there'd be much lower production costs, and it'd be a lot more reasonable to take a few risks. I'm hoping that with graphics today being about as good as they possibly can be that we'll be getting a bit of a break and production costs will start to drop a little.

this is why i play indie games... for the most part they do a great deal of listening.

Can someone explain the stockholder thing, is that true or not?

This article explains the two main points as to why the games industry is failing us so miserably right now. We're at untold levels of revenue, and untold levels of sequelitis and gimmicks. When Shovelware costs go up to six or seven digits, we have an issue.

Problem #1 - The Graphics Problem
- Explained in Shamus Young's Death to Good Graphics

Problem #2 - The Stockholder Problem
- That's what Mr Ward has just written about. Creative black hole, profits first, greenlighting, etc.

If you dropped both of these off of the industry, you'd have a much, MUCH happier group of gamers, because we'd be back in the golden age of gaming. But we've moved on. I consider this to be a bad thing. As much as I like my graphics, I'd prefer my games be good.

I realise this makes me a naive idealist. I'm okay with that. Someone has to be. Or I hope you like the direction we're moving in at full speed. Because it'll never stop. Original content, innovative content, these will wither and die without the 'naive' indie crowd. We're well on the way to becomming Hollywood 2.0, and that makes me very angry, and very sad. Gamers who want more than just another shooter need to look beyond the lineup of the PS3 at your local GameStop or EB or whatever. Find the treasure, and buy it three times over.

Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, Playstation Network, and Nintendo DS are, in my opinion, where you go if you want good, original games. You won't find them on 360 or PS3. The Wii and the DS have made game development somewhat cheaper, compared to those powerhouses. Admittedly, you also see a goddamn lot of shovelware, but that's just a side effect of Problem #2. So what these networks allow is that the graphics be dialled back to reasonable, non-insane levels. This negates problem #1. And you have so many cool games! Check out Lost Magic, on DS. It's an RPG/RTS where you DRAW your spells. Or Castle Crashers, on Xbox Live! Or Aquaria, on Steam!

*sigh* I both love and hate the industry that makes the games. I love them for the games, but hate them for their business. I wish Activision would crash and burn. Take Blizzard with them, too, because I want those guys to form a new studio and make some new goddamn IP's!

Edit: Oh, and let's not get into how much Bobby Kotick, the most public figure who perpetrates these sorts of evil acts, makes in a year >_>

Edit2: Oh, and Mr Ward, can I get your opinion or comments on the responses in this thread? I understand why you wrote the article you did, and that it wasn't to explain how much you like or dislike what's happening now, but I'd like to know your personal opinion on the topic.

Zivendel:

Therumancer:
[quote="LTK_70" post="6.150983.3561584"]
Noone is saying that these guys make as much as Hollywood celebrities, even with "simplistic" Math I brougt it to roughly $100k a year. Truthfully that number would vary based on how much goes to materials, and how big the team actually is.
. . .
Also if your tossing tens of millions of dollars to a bunch of coders(Hollywood Budget), something is definatly borked.

A studio I once worked at told us the man-hours are about 75% of the expense, with the majority of that going towards art. One project I was on had 140 people (not counting external contractors), and about 20 programmers. Excepting maybe since the economy got flushed, it is possible for programmers (can't speak to anyone else) to leave the industry and get a sizable bump in salary. So yes, even us on the mega-projects are sacrificing to be here. Some studios are built on that sacrifice, though not in a good way.

No-one is throwing 8-digit millions at code monkeys. I'd suggest learning what goes into making a current-gen game before commenting on it. Start with some postmortems at Gamasutra. They usually have good info about team size, budget, etc.

Well then, where is all that money going? I mean the bugets are not a secret, and there is truth to the fact that they are getting tens of millions of dollars to code these games. Or at least this is the claims we're hearing in places, and we have situations like the sheer amount of money Microsoft threw to Rockstar for exclusive DLC.

It's like this, that money is either getting split among the code monkeys: which includes graphics programmers, or we have to look at some of Yahtzee's jibes and wonder if they are literally filling corperate troughs full of cocaine.

Now yeah, in the 30 million dollar budget I mentioned for a presumed "big" title, there are expenses to be paid aside from the coders. I mean sure, you've got to hire the advertising guy, design the packaging, get the distribution, pay to run the ads, not to mention lease or rent office space, and buy the computers to develop on. Of course this is all a lot cheaper if your dealing with a producer hiring an existing development house that has it's own junk.

But still none of that comes close to covering the amount of money here, and truthfully my original $100 thousand dollars a year was based around the idea of hiring a thousand people for a 3 year development cycle without considering any of the other expenses. Sure the expenses contribute, but then again they literally aren't going to be hiring a thousand people.

Let me be honest, looking at these games that compete with the financing for hollywood blockbusters and such, that money has to be going somewhere, and frankly there isn't anyplace else for it to go. Basically I think the bottom line is that with the profits being made from games a lot of game programmers got greedy and started demanding ridiculous salaries to do their job. Something they could do under the threat of simply going to work for someone else who WILL pay them that if they don't get it. This is why it would take an industry wide effort to stop it (much like with sports players).

I'm harping on this due to an overall perspective on the gaming industry as a whole just becoming too greedy and big for it's britches. See I felt that hiking the price of games $10 across the board a few years ago was absolutly ridiculous, and the only reason why we didn't see guys like EA CEOs sharing cells with Bubba is because unlike the gas industry nobody in power cares about the game industry enough to actually investigate and prosecute even when they sit there and go "booyah! we're price fixing!" and nobody bats an eye. Of course I admit that this was NOT the area of law I studied in school many years ago (Criminal Justice major), but it does strike me as being highly illegal.

Then of course we hear whining by the industry, justifying these prices based on the amount of money games cost to develop. Big numbers are thrown around. I make cases in other threads about how it's F@cked up to begin with that even if that is true that the development cost of a game doesn't affect how much it costs in the store. A big-time AAA title and a lesser game retail for the same thing when new. At the same time when I read articles like the one above I have to sit here and go "WTF are you doing with all that bloody money that makes it cost this much". The big answer comes down to "hiring people" the man-hours of people doing their jobs being the big expense. So of course with that being the meat of the expenses it's logical to ask "how much are you paying whom to do what"?

If you haven't read all my messages throughout The Escapist my chain of logic might be hard for some to follow, but it is there.

Also keep in mind that I am not saying that the games industry should be some kind of philanthropic venture (like a certain joke on The Escapist News). I mean it's a business, for profit. But there is a point where you the consumer have to look at very highly priced goods like games and say "okay, wait a second, why is this costing me so much?". There is such a thing as being TOO corrupt and greedy, and consumers calling businesses on this kind of thing can have positive effects in the long run when it comes to how much we pay for goods.

See, I think the game industry keeps itself and it's processes/workings shadowy because it lets them get away with more. An outsider can't scream about accountability if he has no idea who should be responsible for what, or what is going on at all. It's an old bureaucratic trick.

A comparison (from the article) to Hollywood is apt I suppose, because truthfully when more was told about it, the more it was forced to clean up it's act. Hollywood is still a seamy hotbed of corruption, but not quite as bad as it has been in previous years simply because people are far less ignorant about it.

I think that if the game industry doesn't want these kinds of questions asked, it should start getting it's house in order, and trying to bleed gamers for every cent they can get.

...but if we don't work for them, they will starve and die.

The question I have is why. Why is it so expensive to make a game in the first place. Lets take MP out of this equation for just one second. A single player 10 hour game running into millions of dollars to make but where is this money going? And why is it becoming more expensive with each game? It can't be graphics because they should be getting easier and easier to produce. We are 3 years into this gen and it seems to me that developers should be getting the hang of it. There hasn't been that many improvements for it not to. I can understand the PS3 costing a bit more but not as much as they make it out to be. Are the devs getting mindwiped after each game? Are the CEOs pulling an AIG? Don't get me wrong they both deserve to be paid but as PC gamers prove time and time again with thier modding techniques once you have a base code it isn't hard to manipulate it. So why is there a new base code built from scratch for almost every game?

No, if you want to change it, start selling indie shit like the guys who made World of G- oh no wait.

You pirated their game.

Good work assjobs.

I blame the voice actors who are paid a minimum of $750 per hour to do voice work on games. If you cut that particular piece of the pie I'd wager it'd be close 25%-30% of the budget. Mass Effect 1, ME2 and Dragon Age Origins, for example, boast 100+ hours of recorded dialogue. 5 actors at 20 hours each adds up $15000. That doesn't factor in bloopers, false starts, and the various accents or tones used/requested/trialed during the process. Games like this often have 15 or 20 voice actors in them. Not such a small number after all.

The main problem is the cost. Stockholders want to profit,developers could work at least a bit more productively for all the money they get,and games themselves are not cheap to make or advertise.

You know what? Just cut the goddamn corners already. Do games with 2D graphics. Employ smaller teams. Use viral marketing. Publish via Steam. PopCap succeeded in taking over casual gaming market thanks to small development costs and incredibly addictive gameplay.

In two words,Get Smart.

squid5580:
So why is there a new base code built from scratch for almost every game?

It depends what you play. Every second 360 game is run on the unreal engine.

Fenixius:

You can hate Bobby Kotick but he is the American dream. An alpha male of free market capitalism. All of the mouth breathers who have been regurgitating "socialism and universal health care are bad, capitalism rocks" should be phoning up Bobby and asking when hes got time to recieve a hand job from a loving admirer.

If you don't like the state of gaming then look to the indie developers and stop being a dick by pirating. Activision can take a few thousand lost sales. It really stings for small developers. It also gives people like Bobby an extra excuse to keep prices high to adjust for lost sales and extra expense for anti pirating measures.

squid5580:
So why is there a new base code built from scratch for almost every game?

This is actually a STUPIDLY good question. Licensing fees on engines aside, dear god. The amount of engine-building that goes on in the industry is just -staggering-. And it costs one hell of a lot of money. I wish they'd take some Software Engineering lessons to heart. Oh, but if it's not an engine that we own, then we have to pay a competitor (like EPIC Games) to use their engine. We can't do that! Think of the STOCKHOLDERS!

TsunamiWombat:
No, if you want to change it, start selling indie shit like the guys who made World of G- oh no wait.

You pirated their game.

Good work assjobs.

I pirated nothing from 2D Boy, mate. I got their game on Steam during the Indie 10-pack sale. That was awesome. The only stuff I pirate these days is stuff I can't get a demo for. Like DS games. Or games I can't buy in my region for whatever reason. In fact, demos are something I'm seeing less and less of. They're expensive, and break the developmental cycle. Which is fair enough, I guess. But release week is some huge percentage of a game's sales, something like 60% or higher, so why should I risk my limited dollars to buy a game when I have zero knowledge? Demos were there for a reason, people.

bjj hero:
You can hate Bobby Kotick but he is the American dream. An alpha male of free market capitalism.

I will hate Mr Kotick, thankyou. I'm an Australian, and if that's your American Dream, then I think it's an totalitarian state of affairs, controlled by the corporations; nightmarish, elitist, and evil. It's destroying what I love. Oh, and the oil giants, corporate greed, etc. I don't really need to go into that rant, full blown, do I? The man is hurting directly our beloved medium by striking the weak point for massive damage.

bjj hero:
If you don't like the state of gaming then look to the indie developers and stop being a dick by pirating. Activision can take a few thousand lost sales. It really stings for small developers. It also gives people like Bobby an extra excuse to keep prices high to adjust for lost sales and extra expense for anti pirating measures.

You're dead on, mate. Totally right. And while I'm not the spiteful sort, I'm so tempted to download a thousand copies of Modern Warfare 2. I just cannot encourage publishers enough to distribute through Steam. If it's on Steam, and reasonably priced, I -will- buy it, instead of pirating it. ...not like Activision, who raised the price of Modern Warfare (#1) on Steam a couple days after it was put up there, but only in the Australian region. That sort of regionalised discrimination will get me running to a torrent site to grab a copy of your game faster than anything else I can think of. Except excessive DRM.

End rant for now.

Kollega:
The main problem is the cost. Stockholders want to profit,developers could work at least a bit more productively for all the money they get,and games themselves are not cheap to make or advertise.

You know what? Just cut the goddamn corners already. Do games with 2D graphics. Employ smaller teams. Use viral marketing. Publish via Steam. PopCap succeeded in taking over casual gaming market thanks to small development costs and incredibly addictive gameplay.

In two words,Get Smart.

Oh, and you're right too. I forgot, but you're absolutely correct. I saw a concept once for a 2D game, thought up by an independant artist, and it looked like the best thing ever. But no, it's 2D, so it would never have stood a chance. There's a bit of a 2D revival going on on Xbox Live Arcade, but you'd never see a full-blown $60US/$100AU release. And that's the sort of thing that keeps prices so goddamn high.

Look at Aquaria. It's just gorgeous. It's fun. And it was cheap enough for TWO GUYS to make (plus the voice actress). Imagine a team of 10 men? With, say, a third of the resources that Ubisoft put into the new Splinter Cell or Assassin's Creed game? It would cost less to make, and be as good as a fully blown blockbuster game. Something like Shadow Complex, perhaps?

There -are- ways to be cheaper. And there are pros and cons for each of them. But people really need to start deciding if a 2D game is such a bad thing.

I am sick of hearing "gamers" trash our industry and our medium. You can say what you want about how developers are slaves and publishers are evil, but the fact of the matter is both AAA games and indie games are having a Renaissance this gen.

OF COURSE there are bonehead execs at big publishing companies who don't get it ie Bobby Kotick. In every industry since the beginning of time there have been boneheads who don't get it. The reality is that we have seen a LOT of great original IP's, GREAT indie games, and (dare I say it for fear of being flamed) some great revivals. Look at Mass Effect, Oblivion, Batman Arkham Asylum, Assassin's Creed, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead off the top of my head. All this gen, all GREAT games (arguably) and all AAA titles.

I also look at indie games which are having a BIG boom! Look at Darwinia, the Path, World of Goo, Trine, Braid, etc. Some great, groundbreaking, and SUCCESSFUL independent games that are now finding an audience they never would have found 5 to 10 years ago.

Here are the facts guys; Shenmue 3 will never come out because there isn't enough of a demand. There are a bunch of people out there who praise the series, but the GAME IS BORING (I could do a 10 page post on why collecting stupid figurines at an arcade and running errands for your mom doesn't make and exciting game)! If it would sell (ie enough people wanted to buy it) they would release it. The Dreamcast failed because it had lousy games (except for Soul Calibre and Crazy Taxi. Tons of fun!) Tell me I'm wrong all you want, but if it was a good product and marketed well it would have been profitable.

Guys, I've been an avid "gamer" since my dad let me use his Apple IIc in 1987 to play Pac Man and I've spent probably about an average of 5 to 10 hours a week my entire life playing everything from AAA console action shooters to obscure pc rpg's and strategy games. Now is the best time to be a gamer ever. We look back on our industry with nostalgia goggles (Shadowrun for the Sega Genesis is still the best game ever imnsho) but the fact is there is a reason that Batman Arkham Asylum is the first REALLY good (or even kinda good) Batman game out there; we finally have the technology and the ability to make it.

To sum it up you are all wrong and haters ;)

All sadly true, but... two things:

"But when your game is six months away from going gold, you're by and large stuck with what you have - and if the team haven't made it happen over the past two years, there's no guarantee they'll ever make it happen, no matter how much time and money you chuck at the problem. Sometimes you have to cut your losses."

If you abandon the "quarters" mentality, you're never really six months away from gold, or better, you never know you're six months away from gold because gold is not a fixed date, but something that happens when the game's done. It's still true that there's no guarantee and of course you don't want to end up like Duke Nukem Forever...

"But why doesn't the games industry work the way we want it to? More than anything, it's because we have false expectations of ourselves. Just as the people like my movie buff friend are not the ones who decide the success or failure of the latest Hollywood blockbuster"

Exactly. If what you do requires 8 figures budgets, you necessarily enter the playground of public trading, majors and ugly people like Kotick. Realistically, the only hope is that a parallel, possibly layered environment survives. Think music, not movies.

...
Isn't this just a marketing and product life cycle analysis?
Still well written

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